Crankworx World Tour has rolled into Innsbruck Austria for Round 2 of the three stop tour, and Vaea Verbeeck has been putting some big points on the board for her Queen of Crankworx campaign.
The Vancouver rider added points from a big win in the Dual Slalom race in Innsbruck. In a comeback win, Verbeeck surprised American Kialani Hines to take top honours in the fast-paced race format.
“It still feels amazing to me to go into finals for Dual Slalom, because even though I qualified first, and my expectations quickly became higher, I’m still new to this discipline,” said Verbeeck, who has been putting a big effort to improve in the new-to-her discipline. “I’m still learning. So, it feels amazing. Two for two, hell yeah.”
After winning the Dual Slalom event at Crankworx Rotorua, Verbeeck was 0.57 seconds behind Hines after the first of two runs in Innsbruck. The Canadian was able to put together a faster second run, beating Hines by 0.7 seconds to take the win.
“I felt like I was going to make up my time in the grass corners,” said Verbeeck. “But it turned out I had so much fun railing those corners – there’s a combo of a switchback that’s a really good G-out, and I really liked that and I liked to push that one, so what I thought my weakness was turned out to be pretty sweet.”
The win adds to Verbeeck’s Queen of Crankworx’s points tally, putting her in the lead in the year-long competition. The Canadian was ninth later that evening in the Pumptrack Challenge. That event was won by Hines, who is currently second behind Verbeeck in the battle for the crown. Anneke Beerten was third, winning her bronze medal match-up against Australia’s Danielle Beecroft to move solidly into third in the points chase for Queen of Crankworx.
American junior downhill racer Mathew Sterling surprised the men’s field to win the Dual Slalom in Innsbruck. The 17-year-old lined up against the much more experienced Mitch Ropelato in the final. The 27-year-old veteran racer pushed too hard in the final, and crashed in a cloud of dust. Sterling took advantage of the door opened by Ropelato, and rode two clean runs to take the unexpected win.
“The grass turns at the bottom were really slick, “ said Sterling, “You had to be on your A-game to hit them, and if you didn’t get them right, it was game over.”
Luca Cometti beat New Zealand’s Keegan Wright in the small final, making it three American’s on the Dual Slalom podium at Crankworx Innsbruck.